Singapore’s wildlife parks—Jurong Bird Park, Night Safari, River Safari and Singapore Zoo—welcomed over 700 young additions representing 131 species in 2018. Of the new additions, 35 species are listed as threatened under the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.
A baby Giant Anteater was born in March 2018 at River Safari. She was named Leona after La Leona, a river in Argentina. Leona is the first giant anteater to be born here in four years, and the eighth Giant Anteater baby to be born in WRS.
Sloth Bear twins were born mid-September 2018 to an inexperienced mother at Night Safari. Unable to move on their own and with their eyes closed, the cubs required round-the-clock care in the animal hospital during their first delicate weeks. Now at about five months old, they reside behind-the-scenes in Night Safari’s Sloth Bear exhibit, specially furnished with branches for climbing and toys for enrichment.
As the pair have grown into spritely young bears, keepers are weaning them off human interaction by reducing the amount of direct physical contact and getting them used to the Sloth Bear exhibit for their eventual public debut.
Jurong Bird Park
Jurong Bird Park saw the first Santa Cruz Ground-dove chick hatch on 31 December 2018, marking the park as the world’s first zoological institution to breed the species under human care. There have been 12 hatchlings since then and more eggs being incubated, a significant win for a species likely with a wild population of barely over 300. Jurong Bird Park currently houses the only assurance colony for this endangered species outside its native Solomon Islands.
With the first Straw-headed Bulbul hatched in 2017, Jurong Bird Park welcomed three more into the fray in 2018. The park is the first in over a decade to breed these critically endangered species under human care. It is believed to be extinct in half of its native range in South East Asia due to extensive poaching for the songbird trade and Singapore is the last stronghold of this species, with a local wild population of just over 200.
This was the first time the tadpoles of the Malayan Horned Frog—a species notoriously difficult to breed— metamorphosed successfully in October 2018 and reached froglet stage in Singapore Zoo.
The park also welcomed a baby female Chimpanzee named Nini in January 2018, bringing the total births of the endangered species to an impressive track record of 32.
March 2018 brought Singapore Zoo’s 25th Celebes Crested Macaque baby and first birth in seven years. Named Agung, which means ‘great’ in Bahasa Indonesia, the young and energetic one can be found darting about on his island home in Singapore Zoo’s Primate Kingdom. The Celebes Crested Macaque is native to the Indonesian island of Sulawesi and neighbouring islands. Today, it is considered critically endangered.
Dr Cheng Wen-Haur, Deputy CEO and Chief Life Sciences Officer, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, said, “Our team of zookeepers and veterinarians have done us proud again with some outstanding achievements in conservation breeding.
“The goals of breeding wildlife in our parks are to achieve sustainable populations of species in human care.
“The ultimate goal would be to return some of these zoo-born progenies to their wild habitats someday when it is safe to do so.”